Jury deliberating in case against airman charged with murdering Mennonite woman

News

Brady Wheeler

The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff

Closing statements concluded Friday and jury deliberations are underway in the case against an U.S. Air Force airman who is accused of killing a Mennonite woman.

Mark Gooch, 22, faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in the kidnaping and death of Sasha Krause, 27.

Krause was an occasional Sunday school teacher where she lived in Farmington, New Mexico, and worked in the publishing ministry in her community. She disappeared on the night of Jan. 18, 2020 while gathering supplies for Sunday services the next day.

Gooch grew up in Wisconsin, where he was raised in the faith but never formally joined the church, his family says.

His father testified during the trial that Gooch stopped participating in the Mennonite church in 2017 before enlisting in the armed services.

“To the best of my knowledge, he wasn’t of a converted heart,” Jim Gooch said.

Prosecutor Ammon Barker argued in his closing statements that Gooch held a contempt for Mennonites and “relished in the suffering” of churchgoers like Krause. Defense attorney Bruce Griffen, meanwhile, countered that Gooch was a peaceful, nonviolent person.

There is no indication that Krause and Gooch knew each other prior to the disappearance, as Griffen pointed out to the jury when suggesting lack of motive. But Barker says it only made the killing even more “terrifying.”

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